Student protest is important. So why should it just be the preserve of the hard left?

You don't have to be Marxist to want a better world, but sometimes student politics makes it feel that way

You don’t have to think that the police do a bad job to agree that what happened at the student protests in London last December was not okay. You could have any opinion about the organization, and still think that the actions of certain Met officers at the end of last year were the wrong thing to do. You don’t have to care about every campaign on campus to believe that students should have a right to take part in peaceful protest without fear of arrest, suspension or violence for doing so.

You don’t have to view these incidents, the recent cuts to UK education, the suspension of students for taking part in occupations, the increase in fees, the decrease in real staff wages, and the outsourcing of various sections of our education system as part of a wider neoliberal agenda. You don’t have to know about all or any of these things. You don’t have to know what neoliberal means - and even if you do, you don’t have to think it’s a bad thing all of the time - to want to stand up for what you do believe in.

You don’t have to take to the streets or participate in traditional means of protest to fight against injustice, for justice and to demonstrate your views. You don’t have to be part of a revolutionary, anarchist or any other group to have an opinion on these issues; and you shouldn’t have to subscribe to an ideology to participate in a campaign.

Throughout the United Kingdom, there is a tendency for certain political groups to dominate or hijack student-led demonstrations that could otherwise rally widespread support within both the student body and the wider community. With the help of a few too many party-orientated banners, a megaphone fiend and a Soviet logo, a protest against police brutality on campus starts to look more like a call for revolution to many passersby.

In doing so, the campaign becomes exclusive. In some cases, it becomes a race to the left, a rally for competing ideologies, to which few people are subscribed. Those that are not walk away, and indeed are encouraged to, because they don’t want to be part of the groups that also (ironically) attempt to capitalize on the campaign.

In the coming weeks and months, the United Kingdom will play host to a number of new and existing student-led campaigns concerned with the future of British higher education. The announcement a few months ago that the Conservatives will privatize student loans by selling the student loan book has set the scene for a host of coordinated actions at various university campuses in the new academic year.

This move will affect anyone who has taken out a student loan, with strong evidence suggesting that as a result, many of us will not have succeeded in paying off our debts by the time we retire. If coordinated in an inclusive and focused way that does not pitch ideology above cause, the campaigns against the privatization of student loans could achieve the support needed to have an impact not only at the top but perhaps then within our society as well. The potential of people power is in itself empowering.

Individuals and groups should always be free to protest, to campaign and to do so without fear of repression. But the danger that dogmatic ideological heroism poses to cause-based campaigns must not be underestimated.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter what my or your political dreams are made of, but what we can achieve on what we already agree. We don’t have to be united in ideology to be united in action.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee